SCOTUS: Form Isn’t Following Function

June Smith

In honor of Independence Day, I chose to exercise my right of freedom of expression and pass along what the Supreme Court has to say on its website about the 5-4 ruling, the function of the Court, and other boowah, bushway, and blah blah blah.

Playing on the Supreme Court’s bright red, cheery “We the People” website,, July 03, 2012/Version 2012.0, doesn’t come close to playing something like Gearbox Software’s Xbox 360 “Brothers in Arms” but since many of “We the People” are up in arms regarding the Chief Riddler’s recent decision, it was worth a shot.

There’s no “hellacious sandbox to test your tactical mettle”, just a click and voilà: Home! Underneath the images of the Chambers, sacred hallways, spiraling staircase, statues, illuminated building views and official calendar is the “What’s New” section.

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Here’s what’s new, according to the folks at the SCOTUS: “The Supreme Court will launch new Website capabilities on June 1, 2012 to improve the mobile device user experience. The Court’s Website has always supported a variety of web browsers, but it will now detect the mobile device being used and will automatically adjust the display based on the screen size and orientation. This Website enhancement will make the Court’s site easier to read on a mobile device and improve user navigation on the site.”

That launch has yet to happen. They’ve been too busy lately messing with individual rights.

There is access to info on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act cases available at this link.” That opens to “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Cases”, dated March 26-28, 2012, with “live links to the orders, case filings, and other information pertaining to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Cases”, but nothing about the recent decision.

It comes as no surprise that there’s a disclaimer, complete with an asterisk, at the bottom of the page—although there is no asterisk in the body of the text—leading to this nugget: “We have provided a link to this site because it has information that may be of interest to our users. The Supreme Court of the United States does not necessarily endorse the views expressed or the facts presented on this site.”

To quote Strunk & White on the use of the asterisk, “To do so is to put on airs, as though you were inviting the reader to join you in a select society of those who know better.”

But I digress…

Not finding anything useful on that page or on any of the other links or links from there, unlike “Brothers” Sergeant Matt Baker, “I didn’t ask to be squad leader”, and left that section, scoring no points in that round.

 Constitutional Origin” leads to this: “Article III, §1, of the Constitution provides that “[t]he judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.” The Supreme Court of the United States was created in accordance with this provision and by authority of the Judiciary Act of September 24, 1789 (1 Stat. 73). It was organized on February 2, 1790.”

Hopeful of discovering the interpretation of the Court’s function, the clicking continued. Surely the information in somewhere in the bowels of the site.

There are links to dockets, oral arguments, court rules, etc., as well as press releases (nothing on the recent ACA decision there, obviously not newsworthy to them), career opportunities, and how to plan your visit, etc., but nothing on the function of the Court.

“The Supreme Court is the highest court in the Nation for all cases and controversies arising under the Constitution or laws of the United States…” popped up in the “Planning Your Visit” section; subsection “Visitor Etiquette”, hardly an explanation of function.

More digression:  If a visit to the SCOTUS is on your bucket list, here are a few fun facts to know before going:

There’s a cafeteria open to the public where “…service may be interrupted briefly at noon and 1 p.m. for Supreme Court employees.” Translated, that’s when the important people eat.

The gift shop has “extensive offerings of books and other instructive materials to enhance your understanding of the Court’s history.” There are educational games, learning aids, and gift items “associated with the law and the Supreme Court” but there is no mention of the D.C. five cent bag tax.

An ATM, public phones, and vending machines are located on the ground floor.

Liberty, justice, and an ATM all in one place, all guarded by the 150 Supreme Court police offices, averaging 40-50 officers on duty daily.

Continuing the search, I swept through all the other legalese land minds, finally opting for the link to external links, leading to this fond farewell You are now leaving the Supreme Court of the United States Website.”, thanks for the visit, hope your site visit was informative.

It wasn’t. Score: Zero. Charcoal: Ready for grilling. Search and game: Over.

The debate about the Supreme Court’s function and the recent decision are far from over. The cognitive elite continue questioning the function of the court and the impact of the decision. Many Team Reason members have expressed their thoughts.

Timothy S said, “The function of the Supreme Court is to protect individual rights from the majority. With the other two branches of government, they respond to the voters directly and hence the majority. The purpose of the Supreme Court is to protect the individuals’ rights from the political desires of the majority. So Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion to throw it all back on the voters goes against what the Supreme Court’s function is and why they exist. With their decisions last Friday, it seems they did in fact protect the states’ rights, but did not protect individual rights, and why I feel it fell far short of protecting individual rights. The states are not mandated to comply, but the individual sure is, it was a sad, sad day for liberty and a great day for an ever increasing government.”

Ron would have agreed with Tim and added his own salient points and reasoning along with a rant about “big gubberment getting bigger” and this “hot fried mess.”

All the phone lines would have been lit and the truth would have been told.  Callers would have expressed their First Amendment rights and then some and super show producer Ryan would have had some of Ron’s favorite guests scheduled who would have backed up their thoughts with facts.

One of those callers might have been Team Reason’s Tony M., who said: “I have heard from friends who think Roberts did the right thing by throwing it back at the voters. I assured them that they are wrong, that is exactly what the SCOTUS is there for. If not that, then what is their purpose?” Insert the memory of Ron’s cackle here, followed by a lively discussion and the opening of another can of worms.

Efrem K. S. said, “I miss Ron’s insights. Man, we need him today.” How right he is.

It seems to me the Court exerted its judicial power to serve its own purpose, leaving us to deal with “the unintended consequences” as Ron often said.

So we forge ahead, seeking the truth and answers, sans Ron. In honor of his legacy, let’s keep the discussion going. Ron would have expected no less.

Your comments are welcome on this site. Let’s talk about it.

June Smith is the widow WBAL talk show host and Sun columnist, Ron Smith, who posthumously received an Emmy® for his lifetime achievement in television and radio at WBAL in Baltimore, MD. Smith was a media titan in the central Maryland area and beyond for almost forty years. Mrs. Smith’s tribute website honoring his legacy is  She is working diligently to raise one million dollars for the Ron Smith Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund at Johns Hopkins and is an advocate for H.R. 733, the Pancreatic Cancer Research Education Act. Her email is

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